Jouko Virtanen from Takeoff Partners has overseen several successful expansions to North America. He says that in 2021, the same laws apply to how to make it successful as before—but you need to also turn the accelerating digitalization to your advantage.
Avoset CEO Tuomas Saranen.
With the help of new investors, growth company Avoset seeks to become Finland’s market leader of Atlassian consultancies, with international expansion firmly in the long-term plans. Finland is a great place to start from because Finnish companies tend to be early adopters of digital technology.
“My father and brother, who were IT consultants, started this company ten years ago because they believed in Atlassian products. Around three years ago, then, my father started thinking about retiring. It felt like the right moment for me to jump aboard – and we started making plans for growing the company,” says Tuomas Saranen, CEO of Avoset.
This work of three years is bearing fruit: In October 2020, the company upgraded its Atlassian partnership to the highest level by becoming an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, went through comprehensive rebranding and moved to a new office. In addition, Avoset sold 15% of company shares to investors, including Kim Väisänen and Markko Vaarnas from Takeoff Partners. Markko Vaarnas was also appointed chairman of the company board.
“A board of directors with experience and expertise was something we wanted, along with more resources for growth,” Tuomas Saranen explains.
According to Markko Vaarnas, Avoset was an attractive company to invest in due to both the opportunity it was exploring as well as the leadership within the company.
“The company is in a great position to grow fast and dominate the Finnish market, after which it can start looking to expand internationally. In addition, it’s professionally led: we have been very impressed by Tuomas’ execution mindset and how the entire team is engaged in the company mission.”
Kim Väisänen adds that the future of Atlassian products looks very positive.
“Their use is increasing internationally. As investors, we see great possibilities jumping on that bandwagon.”
Easy to get started but can get complex
Avoset is an IT specialist company that provides consulting and support services to their clients who use Atlassian products. Atlassian is an Australian publicly listed company that develops products for software development, project management, and content management. The company’s well-known products include names such as Jira, Trello and Confluence.
The core of Atlassian’s business model is to rely on consultancy partners for regional sales, which leaves more in-house resources for development work, leading to product development that is always ahead of competitors.
Out of the few Atlassian partners in Finland, Avoset is the biggest player that exclusively sells and provides services around Atlassian products. This is Avoset’s competitive advantage – focusing only on Atlassian products has allowed the company to develop extensive know-how in them.
According to Tuomas Saranen, typically the client first discovers Atlassian products online on their own and starts using them. Indeed, getting started is very easy.
“Problems arise later on, when the client expands their use and things get more complicated. Atlassian products have limitless configuration possibilities and that can lead to configuration mess, if you don't have an in-depth understanding of them. When hundreds of people work on different projects in the environment, it can become very complex,” Saranen says.
“If more configurations are made on top of the old ones without cleaning the environment, the environment may get very congested as a result and becomes slower to use. That’s usually when the client first gets in touch with us – to ask for help,” he says.
Besides helping clients save time and resources by taking care of Atlassian configurations for them, Avoset also arranges training to help clients use an Atlassian tool if they want to expand their in-house knowledge. On top of this, clients save money when they acquire their license for an Atlassian tool from Avoset compared to one bought online directly.
Transformation of work and need for transparency
In the future, Tuomas Saranen thinks that more and more businesses and organizations will be deploying the Atlassian tools. As Finland is usually an early adapter to new technologies, Finns are probably going to do so ahead of the curve.
The key reason to this, Saranen believes, is the transformation of work – along with digitalization, of course.
“Traditionally, transparency within a company has been weak or limited. Information has been hidden on people’s laptops or printed out and stored in physical folders. Also, the way projects are planned has not been very flexible. You make the plan and you execute it, and that’s it.”
Now, however, the Scrum model is becoming popular regardless of the industry, facilitating smarter and more agile working methods as well as transparency.
“Work is more efficient when you break the project down into smaller sprints and revise your plans as you go along. This also helps you to keep the client closer to the project and engaged in developing it. If your project is very large, you really can’t manage it in Excel or by using Post-its. You need better tools for managing the workload, which is exactly what the Atlassian products provide,” Saranen says.
He also adds that Avoset strives to practice what they preach, on every level possible. Not only do they help clients become more transparent and agile through Atlassian tools, but also the way the entire company operates is open, fair and progressive. For example, employee wellbeing is a high priority to Avoset, from building an atmosphere where people trust one another and all issues are discussed openly to very concrete details such as exercise vouchers and healthy snacks always available for employees.
“I consider myself an empathetic person. I can put myself in someone else’s shoes – and this is why I have wanted to make sure that everyone feels good about the work and also Avoset as their employer actively encourages healthy lifestyle and more wholesome wellbeing,” Saranen summarizes.